It’s not an easy story to tell, but it has to be told.
Like most of us, I’d heard stories about people with extreme gambling habits – but I’d never really understood what it was like to be stuck in that situation.
Until I was asked to interview Deb McLaughlin.
Deb grew up with a mother with a gambling problem. As she told me her story my heart broke for her and the countless others like her. They are the people – often, children – who are left to deal with the fallout of a serious gambling problem.
Who can they talk to? How can they get help when they aren’t the one with the problem?
Today, Deb is sharing her story so that she can help others in a similar situation.
Q. What was your childhood like?
A: My mum was a gambler for over 10 years when I was growing up. It started out as something positive – she won money to help us pay for school. But it quickly turned bad and soon she was there all the time.
Q. When did you realise it had become a problem?
A: All the women in our street would go to the pokies – they were almost boasting about how long they could stay there. It wasn’t until my sister left school and got a job that we realised there was a problem. My mum was constantly asking for money.
Q: Tell me about some of the struggles you faced.
A: I was at home alone a lot – my sister and dad worked shift work and mum was at the pokies. I was still a teenager and I was fending for myself. Looking back now, I realise how scared I was. I tried ringing my sister and had many tearful conversations with her. I was so lonely. Even on the rare occasions that mum was home she was sulking about not being at the pokies.